Shortly after acquiring 2022 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, the Memphis Grizzlies have made yet another interesting addition: former league MVP and beloved veteran Derrick Rose.
The deal is reportedly worth $6.5 million, all of which are fully guaranteed.
The key part in the announcement, however, is the indication that Memphis wants Rose to be on the floor. It’s a change from what happened in his reunion with Tom Thibodeau while with the New York Knicks, where his minutes kept dwindling – granted that injuries affected that too. In any case, he only appeared in 27 games this past season, playing just 12.5 minutes per game and thus averaging virtual career-lows 5.6 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.
Rose, now 35, will have a good, refreshing start in Memphis, and it’s nice that he will have one more opportunity since he’s probably in the last few years of his 14-year NBA career. It will be a mini homecoming too given that he played one memorable season of college ball at the University of Memphis. As a top-rated talent coming out of highschool, he was a rare get for the Tigers, and he lived up to the hype by guiding the team all the way to the NCAA championship game.
More than anything, it is clear that Rose is primarily brought in to be an added veteran presence in the Grizzlies’ promising young core, particularly for their embattled All-Star point guard and franchise player, Ja Morant. It has long been believed that such a figure is what’s missing within the group, and that it can help them be focused to get to the next level. Rose himself was involved in varying serious off-court matters, and was able to turn things around.
Morant, as you know, is in the middle of a handful of issues. He will be suspended for 25 games in the upcoming season after he was seen brandishing a gun on Instagram last May, something that he was already suspended for just two months prior.
The second incident also happened following a disappointing exit in the playoffs, where they got upset by the seventh-seeded underdog Los Angeles Lakers in the second round, 4-2, punctuated by an ugly blowout loss in Game 6.
The defeat was a stepback from their 2022 run that had them go to the Western Conference Semifinals and provide a good challenge against the eventual champion Golden State Warriors. Many argued that they could’ve won had Morant not gotten hurt in the middle of the series.
As the Grizzlies now move forward, we may indeed see Rose get a good chunk of minutes (perhaps as high as 30 MPG), at least while Morant is serving his suspension. We’ll see how well he can mix it up, which should be interesting given all the talent available, namely Smart, reigning DPOY Jaren Jackson Jr., sharpshooter Desmond Bane, and Steven Adams. They will also be surrounded by capable role players.
Rose’s overall effect will be intriguing as we may see a resurgence from this hungry Grizzlies team in the 2023-24 season. Note that they finished top 4 in defensive rating over the last two years, and will now play with an extra chip on their shoulder.